Juniata Valley junior quarterback Caleb Taylor doesn't have to worry about inadequate protection from his offensive line this season.
The Green Hornets' front line is loaded with experience, as senior tackle Johnny Johnson and senior guard Ian Hawn will both be four-year starters, senior Alex Culp returns at the other tackle spot, and seniors Tanner Perow and Chris Gardner are both back at center and tight end, respectively.
"It is a relief to know that you have the protection on both the back side and the front side,'' Taylor said of the veteran experience on his offensive line. "It is a relief to know that they have your back.''
Juniata Valley returns nearly all of its offensive line, and most of its defensive front, from last season's 7-3 team that qualified for the District 6-A playoffs but lost to Moshannon Valley, 21-9 there in the first round.
"Having experience on the line is crucial,'' Taylor said. "You know that those players won't buckle under pressure, and that they should be our strong point this year.''
Culp is a formidable 6-foot-3, 281-pounder who will return on both sides of the line at the tackle positions for Juniata Valley.
"I think I've developed pretty well since my first year of varsity,'' Culp said. "I enjoy playing on the offensive line, and blocking for my teammates. It gives me a good feeling when I throw a good block for them.''
That good will is reciprocal, according to Taylor.
"Culpy is a great leader on the field who blocks well,'' Taylor said. "He has nice size, and he does all the little things correctly.''
Experience and repetition have been important factors in the development of Valley's linemen.
"We know what to do, rather than having to learn what to do,'' said Culp, who also participates in wrestling and track and field at Valley.
Culp thinks that the Green Hornets can have another successful season in 2012.
"We have a tough schedule this year, but we have a lot of seniors and a lot of lettermen back, and I think we're going to be pretty good,'' he said.